An RFP is a Request for Proposals.  It is a document that is issued by an acquisition/procurement  department in a private business or a government agency that expresses their need for a contractor or supplier to provide either goods or services. The Request for Proposals can be very lengthy and detailed, commonly 100 pages or more.  It will outline the qualifications and capabilities vendors must have to be eligible to submit a proposal and the project requirements, including the “deliverables” and outcomes the bidding party must meet or exceed.

Common RFP Content

Every RFP will differ somewhat in format, length and contents, but bidders can expect some content to be similar regardless of the funding agency:

  • Summary of the project out for proposal

  • Instructions to prospective proposers

  • Eligibility requirements for proposers

  • Scope of work to be accomplished

  • Expected goals, outcomes and deliverables

  • Proposal submission instructions, deadlines and other important dates

  • Agency and project contact information

  • Budget requirements

  • Technical and cost proposal format instructions

Requests for Proposals may also include a narrative section that explains the rationale or need for the project and/or provides background information about the agency.

RFPs are not always perfect and it is not uncommon for the author and their review team to omit information. You’ll be afforded the opportunity to ask questions regarding those omissions or apparent mistakes and to get general clarifications. But remember, if you ask a question, every other prospective bidder will get to see your question and the answer…is it worth asking?

Everything in the RFP is Important

Some parts of the Request for Proposals seem repetitive or irrelevant to yourresponse.  However, all parts of the document contain information that your potential client or its funding source feels is vital to the project, including important information regarding your eligibility to bid for the project. Paying attention to the key phrases and themes is crucial setting your proposal apart from your competitors.